Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.3.23

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Your day is better when you start it with a first read on what's happening in Florida politics.

Good Monday morning.

Every 4th of July, we urge Florida Man and Woman to be safe during the holiday. This week, we truly hope you will take this message to heart.

Florida Man, please stay safe this July 4.

There won’t be an edition of Sunburn on Tuesday or Wednesday. The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics will return to inboxes on Thursday, July 6.


Always a crowd favorite — “Fourth of July Weekend is brought to you by these lobbyists and political organizations” via Florida Politics


As you celebrate July Fourth, remember that it was July 2 that got the shaft. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress of the 13 American colonies voted to formally separate from Great Britain (New York abstained). On that occasion, John Adams, a future President of the renegade United States, wrote to his wife, Abigail, “The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.” Continued Adams: “It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.” It was not to be.

Two days later, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence written by a showoff named Jefferson. (Psst! Look over here!) Ahem … The rest is history. So Happy Independence Day, otherwise known as the Fourth of July. Just remember, it’s Adams who eventually got the HBO miniseries.

A bunch of troublemakers, led by some showoff named Thomas Jefferson.

—“Independence Day comes only once a year, or does it?” via Brent Batten of the Naples Daily News

Getting the facts straight about the Founding Fathers” via PolitiFact — Invoking the Founding Fathers on Independence Day to celebrate our nation’s birth is a fine thing to do. Invoking them to score political points? Watch out. Take, for example, a Facebook post about Benjamin Franklin that circulated in May 2014, a post that was actually aimed at making fun of Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann. The meme quotes Bachmann as saying, “This country could use a President like Benjamin Franklin again.” Of course, Franklin was never President. And we think Bachmann knows that, as well, because she never actually said the quote. We rated the fabricated Facebook meme Pants on Fire. It’s not just claims on social media. Pundits and politicians get things wrong repeatedly when they use the Founding Fathers to support their political views. Over the years, PolitiFact has found numerous errors about what the Founding Fathers supposedly said or did, especially when it comes to constitutional issues and civil rights.

—“Fathers in chief via Tevi Troy of the Weekly Standard

—“The 7 most badass Founding Fathers” via Dave Forsmark of

—“5 forgotten Founding Fathers” via Daniel Holzel of Mental Floss

—“4 more forgotten Founding Fathers” via Erik Johnson of Mental Floss

—“A nostalgic look at Independence Days of yesteryear” via Stephen Hiltner and Tariro Mzezewa

Even George Washington had to fight fake news” via Angie Drobnic Holan of the Tampa Bay Times — Forged letters from before his presidency claimed to show in his own words that he privately sympathized with the British monarchy and thought the American cause was doomed. The letters also suggested that Washington thought Americans weren’t ready for democracy. The letters were clever forgeries, but they dogged Washington. They circulated in pamphlets, during both the American Revolution and Washington’s presidency — until Washington grew tired of hearing about them and issued an adamant fact-check of his own. Whoever forged the letters worked to make them believable, including details about Washington’s life as a Virginia farmer. The letters were immediately recognizable as fakes to Washington’s inner circle.

The truth about Paul Revere’s ride is brought to you by the Florida Medical Association — “The FMA wishes Sunburn readers a happy Independence Day! We hope you’ll celebrate safely. We also encourage all Floridians to thank our nation’s Veterans and their families for protecting the freedoms upon which our country was founded. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out this fascinating Revere factoid involving a doctor (on message!) — a young physician was most likely the only Patriot who reached Concord during the famous “midnight ride” of Paul Revere.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow got a lot wrong in the “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”

The History Channel tells us that “Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1861 poem about Revere’s ride got many facts wrong. For one thing, Revere was not alone on his mission to warn John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and other patriots that the British were approaching Lexington on the evening of April 18, 1775. Two other men, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, rode alongside him, and by the end of the night, as many as 40 men on horseback were spreading the word across Boston’s Middlesex County. Revere also never reached Concord, as the poem inaccurately recounts. Overtaken by the British, the three riders split up and headed in different directions. The British temporarily detained Revere at Lexington and Dawes lost his way after falling off his horse, leaving Prescott — a young physician who is believed to have died in the war several years later — the task of alerting Concord’s residents.”

10 U.S. historical facts to rain on any July 4 party” via Florida Politics — Every party has a pooper; that’s why some people go to Fourth of July parties armed with trivia that casts doubt on conventional wisdom — especially in American history. When partygoers are lighting fireworks, exclaiming “Isn’t America beautiful?” these historical fact-checkers rain the truth on their parade. Here are 10 “truth firecrackers” to liven up (or put a quick end to) any Independence Day festivities: 1. Baseball, the “All-American” sport, likely came from England; 2. Apple pie is British, too; 3. The melody of the American national anthem comes from an old English drinking song; 4. The Pledge of Allegiance was created for one reason — to sell more flags; 5. Canadians own the Mall of America; 6. Bald eagle screeches are much weaker than the iconic sound, which is actually from the red-tailed hawk; 7. Settlers didn’t tame the American frontier; it was already pretty tame; 8. Hot dogs on the Fourth? Lewis, Clark and the “Corps of Discovery” ate over 200 dogs during the trip; 9. Speaking of wieners … President Lyndon Johnson would frequently pull his out his own “Johnson”; and 10. Independence Day is actually July 2 (see above).


‘Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning — Part One’ premieres — 9; 2023 MLB All-Star Game — 11; Florida Chamber 37th Annual Environmental Permitting Summer School — 17; new Steph Curry documentary premieres — 18; Lionel Messi to make his Major League Soccer debut with Inter Miami CF — 18; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 19; Gov. Ron DeSantis to speak in Iowa at Rep. Ashley Hinson’s annual BBQ Bash — 34; ‘Billions’ final season premieres — 39; Beyoncé’s ‘Renaissance’ tour in Tampa — 44; The first GOP Presidential Primary debate — 51; ‘Ahsoka’ premieres on Disney+ — 51; The U.S. Open begins — 56; Florida House Fall 2023 Interim Committee Meetings begin — 77; Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ premieres — 95; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 112; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 123; Suncoast Tiger Bay Club hosts ‘Evening with the Tigers’ — 127; ’Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 130; Formula 1 will take over the Las Vegas Strip — 136; Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ premieres — 142; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 190; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 215; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 218; Georgia Democratic Primary — 225; South Carolina GOP holds first-in-the-South Primary — 236; Michigan Democratic Primary — 238; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 248; 2024 Oscars — 250; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 270; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 305; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 325; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 389; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 389; New ‘Alien’ premieres — 410; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 418; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 536; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 592; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 669; ‘Moana’ premieres — 725; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 900; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 1,033; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,055; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,265; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,404; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,363; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,726.


How much did Ron DeSantis make off his book deal? He just updated his personal finances.” via Michael Wilner and Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — DeSantis is a millionaire for the first time, according to newly released financial disclosure forms that show the Florida Governor made $1.25 million from his book deal last year. DeSantis, who was required by state law to disclose his finances by July 3, reported the income from HarperCollins alongside his salary of $141,400 from the Florida Governorship. As of Dec. 31 of last year, his net worth was $1,174,331, according to the financial disclosure form. The Governor also had $18,628 in outstanding student loans.

Nothing like a bestseller to pad the bank account.


Did they?DeSantis allies say they blunted Donald Trump’s post-indictment surge” via Philip Wegman of Real Clear Politics — Top officials with the super PAC Never Back Down started a real-time experiment to quantify the fallout from the indictment while testing their ability to conserve DeSantis’ support, maintain his positive image, and reach new voters. Among those who will actually end up voting, they believe their messaging surge worked. An internal poll of a head-to-head race in Iowa, conducted at the end of May, shows Trump and DeSantis running roughly even at 45% and 43% among likely voters. They anticipated that the first indictment would stir up outrage and bring out support for Trump among those sympathetic to his cause — even the editorial board of The Washington Post panned the Manhattan charges as “a poor test case for prosecuting a former President.”

Ron DeSantis supporters cheer dumping cold water on Donald Trump’s post-indictment bounce.

DeSantis brings his presidential pitch to Philadelphia” via Harrison Cann of City & State FL — Parental rights supporters, presidential candidates and protesters were all out in full force Friday as the Moms for Liberty summit kicked off its first full day in Philadelphia to a mix of faithful fans and outspoken opponents. The controversial, self-described parental rights group is hosting its second annual convention just blocks away from the birthplace of liberty — just days before the nation celebrates its independence. DeSantis took the stage as the event’s first main speaker Friday morning, bringing his presidential campaign — much of which is centered on rhetoric against what he called the “woke agenda” — to this key battleground state.

DeSantis wants to ax an agency that investigated Hunter Biden” via Jonathan Allen and Matt Dixon of NBC News — “We would do Education, we would do Commerce, we’d do Energy, and we would do IRS,” DeSantis told Fox News host Martha McCallum. In the next breath, he acknowledged the most glaring obstacle to fulfilling those promises: He would need Congress to comply. DeSantis would try to move programs to other departments or whether giving the ax to the agency at the center of the probe into Hunter Biden’s finances might encourage the powerful to evade taxes. “DeSantis doesn’t actually have any detailed plans,” said Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for Trump.

DeSantis takes his show to Philly. Image via Twitter.

Why are Gen Xers DeSantis and Nikki Haley running like grumpy old Boomers?” via Bill Scher of Washington Monthly — DeSantis, younger than Bill Clinton or Barack Obama were when they won the presidency, is playing up his youth. He touts his “energy” and highlights his young children. While stumping in New Hampshire, DeSantis drifted into some good-ol’-days mythology: “When I was a kid, you watch a cartoon, it was a cartoon. Now it’s, like, parents have to worry, like, ‘OK, what are my kids being exposed to?’” The rosy depiction of Gen X childhood is absurd. The era of Ronald Reagan was constantly panicked over nuclear war, AIDS, drugs, child abductions, kids’ exposure to inappropriate media, and a crime rate that dwarfs today’s. Today’s Republican Party has a significant weakness with younger voters. Moreover, Republicans have developed a fondness for older presidential candidates.

—”DeSantis’ stalling campaign: How to lose friends and alienate people” via Richard Luscombe of The Guardian

— MORE 2024 —

Republican group condemns DeSantis over ‘extreme’ and ‘homophobic’ ad” via Charlie Nash of Mediaite — Log Cabin Republicans, the largest LGBT Republican organization in the U.S., condemned DeSantis after his campaign posted an ad attacking Trump’s connections to the LGBT community. The bizarre ad, which was posted by the DeSantis War Room to Twitter on Friday, attacked Trump by playing a 2016 clip of him saying, “I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens.” Trump made the comments following the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, which left 49 people dead. The ad also showed clips of Trump with transgender Republican Caitlyn Jenner before boastfully displaying a string of headlines that referenced DeSantis’ “draconian” and “evil” anti-LGBT policies.

To watch the ad, please click on the image below:

—”Pete Buttigieg slams anti-LGBTQ video promoted by DeSantis campaign” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Trump takes over small city in South Carolina show of force” via Natalie Allison of POLITICO — Trump built his 2016 campaign on the ability to pack supporters into arenas and fields. In his first early-state rally of 2024, he commandeered a small city. Taking over the movie-set-like Main Street of a town of 3,300 in the hills of South Carolina on Saturday, Trump put on a show of force not only in his stronghold of rural America but in an early Primary state where he remains dominant. In front of a crowd that local officials estimated may have reached 50,000, Trump barged onto the home-state turf of two of his Primary opponents, Haley and Sen. Tim Scott.

Win or lose, Chris Christie is running the best campaign against Trump” via Matt Lewis of the Daily Beast — Don’t look now, but Christie is having a moment. While Trump is clearly the prohibitive front-runner for the Republican nomination, there is no denying that Christie is the most interesting of the growing Republican field of candidates clamoring for that coveted spot. Consider just a few of Christie’s recent greatest hits. When Trump mocked Christie’s weight, Christie, appearing on Fox News’ “MediaBuzz,” responded, “Oh what, like he’s some Adonis?” I wouldn’t be surprised if (unlike many of his GOP competitors) Christie’s trajectory is still on the rise. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, Christie is the only contender who actually realizes the 2024 Election is about one question and one question only: Trump or not Trump.

Haley struggles to catch fire in crowded field; campaign says she’s waiting for right moment” via Stephanie Murray and Tom LoBianco of The Messenger — Haley has been running for the Republican nomination longer than any other candidate except Trump, yet she appears to have stalled out after four months at around 3% support and with little expectation among Republicans that she can catch fire any time soon. Haley has long been thought of as a presidential timber. She’s the only woman in the field and expectations were high for the former Governor and U.N. Ambassador when she entered the race in February. So far, though, her campaign has struggled to gain momentum. Haley’s supporters say she’s keeping her powder dry and waiting for the right moment to strike — possibly at the first Republican debate less than two months from now in Milwaukee.

Nikki Haley is waiting for the ‘right moment’ to break out of the pack.

The RNC’s debate plans have a major, largely unnoticed problem” via Steven Shepard of POLITICO — Even if you’re the longest of long shot presidential candidates, it’s pretty easy to register at 1% in a poll. In a survey of, say, 800 voters, all you need is 4 to say they’ll vote for you to hit that mark. But actually meeting the Republican National Committee’s polling requirements, which holds that a candidate must earn 1% in three polls to participate in the party’s first Primary debate next month, might be a lot harder than it looked. That’s because the RNC’s criteria exclude virtually all of the public surveys conducted these days. To count for debate qualifying, polls must survey at least 800 “likely” Primary voters or caucusgoers. Those criteria aren’t just strict — they’re unrealistic.

A mysteriously financed group that could upend a Joe Biden-Trump rematch” via Julie Bykowicz of The Wall Street Journal — A centrist group is laying the groundwork to run an alternative candidate if the 2024 presidential race becomes a Trump—Biden rematch. It is called No Labels, but many political strategists have their own label for it: spoiler. History and recent polling suggest a third-party candidate has little chance of winning and could tip the election to Trump, the Republican former president who No Labels itself says is too dangerous to return to the White House. A No Labels candidate could swing the race in critical states or help ensure no candidate gets 270 electoral votes, which would let state delegations in the House pick the winner, likely favoring the GOP.


Anthony Sabatini raises more than $200K to challenge Daniel Webster” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Sabatini announced he raised $205,000 in his congressional campaign’s first quarter. The Lake County Republican Party Chair announced in April he will challenge U.S. Rep. Webster, a Clermont Republican. The two are the only Republicans filed so far in Florida’s 11th Congressional District. “My America-First campaign for Congress is gaining momentum because Floridians are tired of the radical socialist policies being advanced by corrupt Democrats in Washington,” Sabatini said in a statement on his fundraising. “That’s why I am proud to announce that we have raised over $205,000 in the first quarter of our fight to take America back.”

Image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr.
Anthony Sabatini is gunning for Dan Webster’s seat. Image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr.


DeSantis faces one setback after another in battle against LGBTQ rights” via Michael Wilner and Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — In the last week alone, the DeSantis administration faced setbacks in three legal battles over LGBTQ rights. Judges rejected state efforts to block transgender adults’ access to gender-affirming care under Medicaid, bar transgender children from accessing puberty blockers, and ban minors from certain types of live entertainment at restaurants — legislation widely interpreted as a proposal to target drag shows. DeSantis’ agenda has hit other roadblocks, with judges blocking portions of his plans to control teaching and training on gender identity in schools and workplaces.

DeSantis gets another setback in his push against LGBTQ rights. Image via AP.

DeSantis’ own immigrant story in conflict with his opposition to ‘birthright citizenship’” via Frank Cerabino of The Palm Beach Post — The contention that Presidents can issue executive orders to prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution sounds nutty. That’s because it is. But DeSantis, a Harvard Law School graduate, ought to know better. But what’s especially appalling about DeSantis signing on to this exercise in bigot recruitment is his family’s own personal history with birthright citizenship. All eight of DeSantis’ great-grandparents emigrated to the United States from Italy early in the last century in the hopes of finding a better life here. They weren’t English-speaking college graduates recruited by merit. They didn’t have visas. And they didn’t win immigration lotteries when they boarded the ships steaming to New York. They just showed up uninvited. Today, DeSantis might call that “an invasion” of unwanted DeSantises engaging in “chain migration.”

Mexican government issues strong rebuke of DeSantis’s new immigration law” via Nick Robertson of The Hill — The Mexican Foreign Ministry harshly criticized a new Florida immigration law that will require more frequent mandatory ID checks at places like hospitals and by employers, as well as increase criminal penalties to being undocumented. “SB1718 will affect the human rights of thousands of Mexicans, including children, and will exacerbate hostile environments, which may lead to hate crimes and acts against the migrant community,” the ministry said in a statement Saturday. “Criminalization is not the way to solve the issue of undocumented immigration.” The sweeping law went into effect on Saturday.

Black engineers, Game of Thrones fans cancel Orlando events over political concerns” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — Black engineers and “Game of Thrones” fans are the latest groups canceling Orlando events and attributing their decisions to DeSantis and Florida’s political climate. The National Society of Black Engineers’ 50th conference would have brought up to 15,000 visitors to the Orange County Convention Center in 2024 and generated millions of dollars in economic impact, the group’s CEO Janeen Uzzell said Friday. Instead, it’ll be held in a different city that will be announced next week, she said. The Con of Thrones, which typically draws 3,000 to 4,000 fans of the “Game of Thrones” books and television shows, also announced this week it was pulling the plug on a gathering planned for this Aug. 25-27 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando.

Could the Bible be the next book banned in schools? A parent thinks so.” via Angie Dimichele of the Orlando Sentinel — Rabbi Barry Silver agrees with DeSantis that the school system shouldn’t be used to “indoctrinate” children. That’s why he’s now one of several activists across the state who have asked that the Bible be removed from public schools, arguing that it contains the very language that the Governor has vowed to protect children from and to give parents the authority to challenge. “Unfortunately, there’s bad stuff that’s getting into the schools. There’s pornography that’s getting in the schools. So, the parents have had to blow the whistle in Florida,” DeSantis said. Silver said he thinks the Bible is one of the pornographic books in schools, a book that includes “graphic accounts” of violence and rape, executing gay people and women, discussion of gender and sexuality issues, among other issues.



State workers to celebrate the 4th with a four-day weekend after DeSantis declaration” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — State workers in Florida will celebrate America’s birthday with a four-day weekend. DeSantis announced state offices will be closed on July 3, creating an unexpected four-day Independence Day weekend for 97,000 people in the state personnel system. “I hope our hardworking state employees use this additional time off to enjoy Freedom Summer in Florida with their loved ones,” said DeSantis.

DeSantis gives state workers a little preholiday gift. Image via AP.

DeSantis scores big legal win upholding $2.5B gambling deal with Florida tribe” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida scored a legal victory Friday after an appeals court refused to block a $2.5 billion gambling deal between the state and the tribe. The three-judge panel based in Washington concluded that a lower court judge had wrongly stopped the deal and said that any dispute over the compact between Florida and the tribe should be fought in state court. The Seminole Tribe hailed the decision but did not say if it would reinstate sports betting in the nation’s third-largest state as a result. The tribe halted betting on its mobile app in December 2021 due to litigation.

State won’t answer Medicaid procurement questions until after July Fourth holiday” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) won’t provide additional insights into its Statewide Medicaid Managed Care program until after July 4. The state issued an “informational memo” Thursday afternoon with the announcement after a tentative June 27 deadline for it to respond to written questions about its invitation to negotiation (ITN) for the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care program came and went with no action. The brief notice says the agency’s responses to written questions will be included in an addendum to the ITN that won’t be published until “after the July Fourth holiday.” AHCA released the mammoth 956-page ITN in April. Interested parties were required to submit any questions they had about the ITN to the agency by May 3.

More perfect disunion: DeSantis approves end to permanent alimony” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Permanent alimony is no more in Florida. DeSantis signed legislation (SB 1416) that overhauls divorce law in Florida. The most notable change eliminates the possibility of divorced couples remaining eternally tied together financially. The measure was among the last items passed by the Legislature awaiting action by the Governor. It will go into effect July 1, the day after DeSantis signed it. The signing ends years of efforts to reform the divorce process in Florida. Sen. Joe Gruters had sponsored the Senate bill. Rep. John Temple championed the legislation in the House. Florida Family Fairness led a petition campaign encouraging backers of the bill to reach out to DeSantis.

DeSantis signs bill letting businesses to sue local governments, halt ‘arbitrary or unreasonable’ ordinances” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Businesses at odds with local governments over the regulation of everything from noise and plastic straws to the size of cruise ships calling on small seaports will soon have a lot more firepower at their fingertips. DeSantis just approved a measure (SB 170) titled “Local Ordinances” — an apt name because those are its target. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Jay Trumbull, will enable businesses to sue county and city governments over policies they believe are “arbitrary or unreasonable.” While a court decides the legitimacy of that claim on a fast-tracked basis known as a “rocket docket,” the local government will have to halt enforcement of the ordinance in question.

DeSantis signs measure to test use of controversial radioactive road material” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — DeSantis signed a bill that could pave the way for using phosphogypsum in the construction of the state’s roads. Phosphogypsum is produced when phosphate rock is dissolved in sulfuric acid, which is done to make the phosphoric acid necessary to manufacture fertilizer. The bill (HB 1191), which Rep. Lawrence McClure introduced, adds the radioactive waste byproduct of fertilizer production to the list of materials allowed to be used for road construction. Conservation groups had urged DeSantis to veto the bill, saying that the material would damage water quality and put road construction crews at a higher risk for cancer.

Florida’s new permitless carry law requires fewer active shooter drills in schools” via Stephanie Susskind of WPTV — On July 1, permitless carry will become law in Florida. That means no permit and no training will be needed to legally carry a concealed weapon. The Martin County School District’s safety and security chief Frank Frangella said the legislation won’t have much of an effect because schools remain gun-free zones. “The only thing it does do is it drops the degree of the penalty,” Frangella said. “So, it goes from a felony to a misdemeanor if you are caught on campus.” In addition, the number of required active shooter drills drops from 10 to six per school year. “I think that collaboratively throughout the state, we all mentioned that we are drilling too much,” Frangella answered. Frangella is also expanding his department from one person to five, allowing for greater collaboration.

—“DeSantis makes overdue appointments to Drug Policy Advisory Council” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

Florida State Guard graduates first troops” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Florida graduated the first 100 new troops for the recently reconstituted Florida State Guard. The soldiers completed a two-week basic training program. They have now become the first graduating class since the Florida Legislature last year funded a state guard. DeSantis in 2021 proposed reinstating a state military force for the first time since the 1940s. “I am proud to welcome the first class of Florida State Guard members since 1947,” DeSantis said in a statement.

About 120 troops graduated from training for the Florida State Guard. Photo via Governor’s Office.


Ashley Moody urges extra caution on roadways for holiday — Florida is more than a third of the way into the 100 Deadliest Days, a period when fatal traffic accidents involving teens increase nationwide as young drivers enjoy Summer Break and spend more time traveling on roads. Already, 90 people have died during the period, including a tragic accident earlier this week in Fort Myers that claimed the lives of five teens. Recognizing the dire consequences, Florida Attorney General Moody is reminding drivers to employ extra caution this holiday weekend as roads become even more congested. Between Memorial Day — the beginning of the 100 Deadliest Days — and Labor Day seven people die a day from accidents involving teen motorists, according to Moody’s office. Moody is asking parents and guardians to talk to teens about road safety and the increased risk of fatal accidents during the summer.

The traffic can be dreadful in Florida; Ashley Moody says pay extra attention to the roads.

Wilton Simpson, Florida Forest Service offers fire safety tips for Fourth of July celebrations — Agriculture Commissioner Simpson and the Florida Forest Service are encouraging Floridians to exercise caution when having fires or using fireworks. Floridians should check local laws and regulations before using fireworks, information that can be obtained from local fire and police departments and the State Fire Marshal’s Office. If celebrating with fireworks, grills, or campfires, residents should: light them away from vegetation or dry debris; always have a water source available; aim fireworks away from people, homes or wooded areas; never use homemade fireworks; discard used fireworks in a bucket of water; store unused fireworks, lighters and matches away from children; never leave a fire unattended; and report any fire immediately to 9-1-1.

When hitting the beach this holiday, don’t forget these important residents — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding the public to be mindful of nesting sea turtles and shorebirds as they hit the sand in celebration of Independence Day and all other days this Summer. FWC is urging beachgoers to give turtles and shorebirds their space, remove beach furniture and trash before leaving for the day, keep beaches clean and dark, and never disturb a nest. Getting too close to nesting sea turtles can cause them to leave the beach before they complete nesting. It is illegal to harm, harass or take nesting sea turtles, their eggs or hatchlings. Beachgoers should remain at least 300 feet from nesting shorebirds, seabirds, and wading birds to prevent them from leaving their breeding sites and leaving vulnerable eggs and chicks exposed to the elements and predators.

AAA Activates ‘Tow to Go’ for Fourth of July holiday — AAA — The Auto Club Group has again activated its Tow to Go program in Florida and other select states to offer drivers a safe ride for would-be impaired drivers and their cars. The program allows drivers to have their cars towed to a safe location within a 10-mile radius for free, and the car owner gets a ride too. The program began Friday at 6 p.m. and is available until 6 a.m. Wednesday. It’s free for members and non-members. To date, the program has removed more than 25,000 impaired drivers from the road. To use the service, call (855) 2-TOW-2-GO or (855) 286-9246. AAA reminds us that it’s always best to plan and have a designated driver.

This is a lie! — “What are the most patriotic states in the U.S.? Not Florida” via Brandon Girod of Pensacola News Journal — The most patriotic day in the U.S., July 4, is just around the corner. With political tension flaring up on the cusp of an election year and societal unrest among social issues, the economy and more, WalletHub conducted a study about which states are the most patriotic. Florida, surprisingly, ranked among the lowest. WalletHub compared metrics surrounding two key dimensions, military engagement and civic engagement. In the study, it found that Florida ranked as the 46th most patriotic state in the country, placing it among the likes of New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Arkansas.

Florida was off center stage in American Revolution despite some important events” via Kevin Derby — As the nation celebrates this Fourth of July … Floridians can look back at the strange and almost entirely forgotten role their state played in the American Revolution. A Spanish colony for nearly 200 years, the English gained Florida at the Treaty of Paris in 1763, which ended the Seven Year’s War. People in the U.S. call it the French and Indian War. Dividing the peninsula into East Florida and West Florida, the British attempted to develop plantations in their new holdings but generally used the Floridas for military purposes. The strong military presence helped ensure that the Floridas would not join the 13 colonies to the north in rebelling against George III. … rebellious Americans looked at the Floridas as a threat since the British could launch attacks into Georgia and South Carolina from the south. Colonists loyal to the British crown fled to the Floridas and helped form military units, like the East Florida Rangers, to fight against the American forces. While they did not play a leading part in the American Revolution, Florida and Floridians provided some dramatic moments. James Grant, who served as Governor of East Florida from 1764 until 1771, played a crucial part in British successes in capturing New York and would capture St. Lucia from the French later in the war. American prisoners were held in St. Augustine — including Arthur Middleton and Edmund Rutledge, two South Carolinians who signed the Declaration of Independence. One recent Florida politician with a keen interest in his state’s role in the American Revolution was longtime U.S. Rep. Charles E. Bennett … who represented the First Coast in Congress from 1949 until retiring in 1993. Bennett wrote several books on the Revolution, including a book on battles as well as a biography of Robert Howe with Donald Lennon.

Florida played a pivotal (but largely unrecognized) role in the American Revolution.

Study finds Florida among most independent states in the nation” via The Capitolist — Florida is one of the most independent states, according to a study released by WalletHub. With Independence Day just days away, WalletHub released a report on 2022’s Most Independent States. To determine the most self-sufficient states, the personal-finance website compared the 50 states across 39 metrics, measuring how dependent Americans are on the government and other people for finances, their jobs and personal vices. Florida landed at No. 6 on the list, setting the bar high in several key metrics. The analysis found that Florida boasts the fourth-highest share of federal, state, and local government employees.

Jimmy Patronis urges Floridians to put safety first on July 4 — Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Patronis issued a list of tips Floridians should use to ensure they make it to July 5 with all 10 fingers, 10 toes, and a home that has not been burned to a crisp. “While fireworks can be exciting, they can also be incredibly dangerous if not used with caution. The last thing we want is for your Independence Day to end with a trip to the hospital or even a tragedy,” he said. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Americans who get risky on Independence Day cause nearly 20,000 fires and countless injuries every year. Many can be avoided by keeping a fire extinguisher on hand and not lighting your entire arsenal at the same time.

It’s illegal to fire celebratory gunshots” via Jordan Highsmith of WTSP — Firing celebratory gunfire is illegal across Florida. According to Florida law, discharging a firearm in public or on residential property is a punishable first-degree misdemeanor, with exceptions for a person lawfully defending life, property, or when hunting. Choosing safety is not limited to firing shots, but also when putting on fireworks displays. “The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office recommends either leaving it to the pyrotechnics professionals or maybe finding an alternate way to celebrate the holiday,” the sheriff’s office said.


Supreme Court strikes down Biden’s student debt relief plan” via Michael Stratford, Josh Gerstein and Kierra Frazier of POLITICO — The Supreme Court on Friday struck down Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 of student debt for tens of millions of Americans, thwarting a major domestic priority of the President as he seeks re-election. In a 6-3 decision, the conservative majority on the court ruled that Biden’s effort to erase roughly $400 billion of student debt was an illegal use of executive power. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that Biden’s plan amounts to “the Executive seizing the power of the Legislature” and that it stretches the pandemic-related emergency measure far beyond its logical bounds.

Joe Biden’s student debt plan gets a SCOTUS smackdown.

Supreme Court limits LGBTQ protections in dispute over services for same-sex weddings” via Josh Gerstein and Kierra Frazier of POLITICO — A Christian web designer has a First Amendment right to refuse to create websites for same-sex weddings, the Supreme Court ruled Friday in a decision that dilutes legal protections for LGBTQ people. By a 6-3 vote, the justices sided with Lorie Smith, an evangelical Christian and Colorado web designer who opposes same-sex marriage. Colorado law bars businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation, but Smith argued that the free speech guarantee of the federal Constitution entitles her to an exemption from that law.

—”Supreme Court First Amendment ruling on LGBTQ rights: What’s it mean for Florida?” via Douglas Soule of USA Today Network

Vern Buchanan wants America’s heroes serving in safer conditions and accessing benefits” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — With Independence Day on the horizon, U.S. Rep. Buchanan filed three bills celebrating America’s heroes. Two bills focus on the needs of veterans, while another seeks safer conditions for those in service now. “As someone who represents over 64,000 veterans in Florida’s 16th District, serving our nation’s heroes is one of my top priorities,” the Longboat Key Republican said. “The brave men and women who served our country in uniform deserve all the care and respect a grateful nation can offer every day — not just on Independence Day.”


No sparklers for these folks” via Alyson Krueger of The New York Times — Some Americans, especially younger people, are rethinking whether they want to celebrate Independence Day. A survey by YouGov found that 56% of American adults planned to join in the festivities this year. Some Americans are trying to come to terms with the fact that the Fourth of July is no longer a unifying, communal day. Still, there are many traditions, new and old. The Nathan’s Hot Dog Contest will crown a champion, and Walt Disney World is going all out with a red, white and blue fireworks display at many of its parks. Isaac Norbe, 40, who works in marketing in Seattle, understands why some people may be feeling down on America this year. “It is very challenging going into the Fourth of July due to the Supreme Court decisions,” he said. “They also came down on some tough decisions at the same time last year, and it made it very difficult to celebrate.”

—”Fanfare, golf and boos have marked July Fourth for U.S. Presidents” via The Associated Press

President Richard Nixon signs an amendment granting 18-year-olds the right to vote. Image via AP.

The long, ongoing debate over ‘All men are created equal’” via Hillel Italie of The Associated Press — Few words in American history are invoked as often as those from the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, published nearly 250 years ago. And few are more difficult to define. The music, and the economy, of “all men are created equal” make it both universal and elusive, adaptable to viewpoints — social, racial, economic — otherwise with little or no common ground. How we use them often depends less on how we came into this world than on what kind of world we want to live in. It’s as if “All men are created equal” leads us to ask: “And then what?”

Misunderstood ‘patriotic’ songs for the Fourth of July” via Maeve McDermott of USA Today — “Born in the USA,” Bruce Springsteen: Perhaps the most famous song to be widely mistaken for a patriotic anthem, Springsteen’s famous 1984 single has been used by political candidates from Presidents Ronald Reagan to Trump. Yet, listen past the song’s booming chorus, and its lyrics tell the story of a young American kid sent against his will to fight in Vietnam, only to return home to a country arguably as hostile. “Fortunate Son,” Creedence Clearwater Revival: The song has been similarly treated as a patriotic working-class anthem, but listen past its star-spangled opening lines — “Some folks are born made to wave the flag/Ooh, they’re red, white and blue” — for John Fogerty‘s anti-establishment storytelling about how the poor were sent to fight and die in Vietnam while the wealthy were spared. “This Land Is Your Land,” Woody Guthrie: It wasn’t intended as such when the singer-songwriter, irritated by radio stations playing Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” on a constant loop, wrote the song in 1940.

The case for a Fourth of July Seder” via Alan Burdick and Eliza Byard of The New Yorker — Independence Day should be restful, yes, but it could also be more purposeful. What the Fourth of July needs, we think, is a Seder. For those unacquainted with it, the Seder is the meal served at the beginning of Passover, the Jewish holiday that recalls and celebrates the flight of the Israelites from bondage in ancient Egypt. It is a ceremony replete with symbolic foods (bitter herbs, invoking the bitterness of slavery; matzo, the bread of affliction) and ritual acts (hand-washing, blessings over wine). It’s also an adaptable holiday, responsive to its audiences through the ages and to changing historical tides. What would a good Fourth of July Seder look like? One core ritual, easily conducted in 10 minutes, should be to read the Declaration of Independence aloud. It’s a declaration; let’s declare it. And one more thing: a proper Seder requires you to invite a stranger to your celebration, someone wandering alone in the desert, beyond the borders of your community. That shouldn’t be hard to find.

The Statue of Liberty” via Miss Cellania of — The story of the statue begins with the American Civil War. When fighting broke out in 1861, the rest of the world watched with rapt attention: Could the grand experiment in democracy survive? The United States had inspired the French, who were locked in a cycle of extremism, swinging between bloody democratic revolutions and imperial autocracy. The French were crushed when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865. More than 40,000 grieving citizens contributed to a fund to award Lincoln’s widow a gold medal … It was in this climate, in the summer of 1865, that a group of prominent Frenchmen was discussing politics at a dinner party given by Edouard René de Laboulaye, a prominent historian and law professor … He proposed that France give America a monument to liberty and independence in honor of her upcoming centennial. After all, tens of thousands of Frenchmen had just contributed to a medal for Mary Todd Lincoln — how much harder could it be to pony up for a statue? Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, an up-and-coming sculptor … wanted his monument to be just as inspiring, and his sketches leaned on the popular imagery of the time-broken chains, upheld torches, crowns meant to represent the rising sun … Bartholdi didn’t want “Liberty Enlightening the World” to be just a tribute to American freedom. The statue had to send a pointed message to France that democracy works. It didn’t take long for Bartholdi to perfect his vision for the sculpture. However, getting the statue built was another matter … Given the statue’s message, backing from the French government seemed unlikely … Laboulaye had an idea: What if he and Bartholdi pitched the project as a joint venture between the two countries? As a show of their shared friendship, France could provide the statue and America the pedestal … Bartholdi’s workers started by creating a 4-foot model. Then they doubled the size. Then they quadrupled it to create a 38-foot-tall plaster model. The workers then broke down the structure into 300 sections, taking each piece and enlarging it to precisely four times its size. The result? A full-scale model of the final statue — in pieces! On Oct. 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was finally ready. New York held its first-ever ticker-tape parade for her unveiling. And while hundreds of thousands cheered from Manhattan, only 2,000 people were on the island when she was finally opened to the public — a “tidy, quiet crowd,” an officer on duty told The New York Times.

The Statue of Liberty was on display in Paris in 1878, before it was assembled in the United States.

The world’s tallest flagpole. A tiny Maine town. An idea meant to unite people is dividing them” via David Sharp of The Associated Press — Maine’s Down East region is where the sunlight first kisses a U.S. state’s soil each day, where the vast wilderness and ocean meet in one of the last places on the East Coast unspoiled by development. This makes it a striking backdrop to one family’s bold vision for the region: a flagpole jutting upward from the woodlands toward spacious skies, the tallest one ever, reaching higher than the Empire State Building. And atop it? A massive American flag bigger than a football field, visible from miles away on a clear day. Here’s how Morrill Worcester, founder of Worcester Wreath, tells it: “We want to bring Americans together, remind them of the centuries of sacrifice made to protect our freedom and unite a divided America.”

Forget plain ketchup: Try making these nine condiments for your Fourth of July cookout” via Michelle Stark of the Tampa Bay Times — Kranch. Mayocue. Mayomust. Three “new” condiments introduced by Heinz this year are all kinds of weird until you really think about it. We’re not going to defend the names, but mixing classic condiments is a no-brainer. If you squint, Kranch resembles Russian dressing. In fancier circles, Mayomust might be called “mustard aioli.” We are going all-in on condiments for this year’s Fourth of July food spread. Keep the food simple. Heat up a grill, cook up some meat and veggies. And ahead of time, whip up some accompanying creations. We’ve broken it down into three of the most common condiments, bases onto which you can build: ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard.

On the Fourth, don’t go basic at the barbecue.

Watching Fourth of July fireworks from a boat? Know these Florida laws, safety tips” via Ed Killer of Naples Daily News — Planning on watching fireworks on the water for the Fourth of July? With thousands of new boaters, alcohol and operating vessels after dark, there’s a potential for boating accidents. To help avoid any accidents, before heading out on the water, make sure there are enough approved life vests for each person (especially children, who require smaller vests). Also, make sure to check your boat and related equipment, put gas in the boat, charge all batteries, pre-load the boat, file a float plan and inspect lights. Always check the weather before going out. When you’re at the boat ramp, get the boat ready before pulling onto the ramp and on the ramp, back down, launch the boat, and pull out. If problems arise, get out of the ramp area. When you’re finally on the water, remember that your wake affects others. If in a vessel less than 26 feet, remember to connect the automatic engine kill switch. Do not be aggressive — plan for enough time to reach your destination. Use running lights when underway. At anchor, turn on the anchor light. It’s the law. Make sure to have a good spotlight to spot obstructions in the dark. Never ignite fireworks from a boat and be sure to have working fire extinguishers easily available. Also, make sure to designate a sober driver.

Fireworks! The science and psychology of fireworks” via PBS — NOVA presents the colorful history of pyrotechnics and reveals how high-tech firing systems are transforming public displays into a dazzling, split-second science. Here’s what you’ll find online: Name That Shell … Watch video clips of fireworks bursting in air and find out how well you know your chrysanthemums from your peonies, your Roman candles from your palm trees. Anatomy of a Firework … Where you see brilliant light and vivid color, a pyrotechnician sees a successful lift charge, black powder mix, time-delay fuse, bursting charge, and other essential ingredients. Pyrotechnically Speaking … Dr. John Conkling, adjunct professor of chemistry at Washington College and former executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, describes what it is about fireworks that gets him, well, all fired up. On Fire (Hot Science) … This virtual laboratory lets you explore the basics of combustion, including how a fire ignites, what a flame is made of, and how burning molecules rearrange themselves.

’They think they’re going to die’: How to keep dogs safe and calm during Fourth of July celebrations” via Jorge Ortiz of USA Today — It’s not too hard to tell your dog is scared if you know what to look for. Shivering, shaking, panting, salivating, yawning, and trying to hide are some of those indications. Frightened dogs may also lick their lips repeatedly or get stiff. Depending on the pitch, fireworks that may seem distant can still elicit stress. Music, preferably classic or reggae, can block out some of the offending sounds. Familiar surroundings would also provide a sense of comfort. It’s best to leave pets behind in a secure place. If they’re outside, a leash is advised. The ASPCA points out alcoholic drinks can poison pets, which may get weak and depressed or even go into a coma after ingesting alcohol.

— “Some L.A. fireworks shows canceled after new environmental rules. ‘We’re all disappointed’” via Grace Toohey of the Los Angeles Times

Record-breaking travel predicted for 4th of July: Important tips to help you on your trip” via Samantha Neely of Fort Myers News-Press — If you haven’t finalized your Fourth of July travel plans yet, it might be time to nail them down as record-breaking Florida travelers narrow down their own trips for the weekend. AAA expects more than 2.8 million Floridians will take at least one trip of 50 miles or more over the holiday weekend, an increase of 87,000 more holiday travelers than the previous record set last year. 2.4 million Floridians will be hitting the roads with their cars while the other 340,000 is split up among those flying or taking other means of transportation.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

—“Looking for a fireworks show in South Florida for the Fourth of July? You have options” via Natalie La Roche Pietri of the Miami Herald

Thousands of marchers in Fort Lauderdale protest conservative high-court rulings, new state laws” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Amid searing heat, a downpour, drum beats and a circle of dancers from Native American tribes, a 21st-century version of the Rainbow/PUSH coalition descended on downtown Fort Lauderdale on Sunday as demonstrators and advocates voiced a wide spectrum of political grievances against recent conservative rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and state laws passed by the Florida Legislature. A “We the People March,” the creation of the AIDS Health Foundation and supported by some 70 liberal-leaning social and political organizations, drew an estimated 4,200 participants, a spokesperson said.

Protesters in Fort Lauderdale had enough of conservative high-court rulings. Image via Twitter.

Mayor Francis Suarez worked to draft new law with developer who later paid him $170K” via Joey Flechas, Sarah Blaskey and Tess Riski of the Miami Herald — Suarez and his city staff joined forces with developer Rishi Kapoor to draft a new city law that the developer saw as vital for his $70 million Coconut Grove real estate project. Kapoor later paid Suarez at least $170,000 for consulting for the developer in regular $10,000 increments dating back to at least 2021. The Mayor’s financial deal with the developer is currently under federal investigation. The newly obtained emails reveal how the relationship between Kapoor and the Mayor’s office began years before the aide made a call to the city’s zoning director, who ultimately overrode a code requirement that the building be set back 5 feet from the property line, paving the way for permitting.

Francis Suarez gets a little too cozy with developers.

Fundraising blitz puts Freddy Ramirez atop 5-way race for Miami-Dade Sheriff” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Ramirez amassed more than $100,000 toward his bid to become the county’s first elected Sheriff in decades last month when two additional candidates for the job emerged. He now faces one fellow Democrat and three Republicans. So far, only one has done any substantial fundraising. Ramirez, who was previously registered as both a Republican and an Independent, collected more than 145 personal checks in May through his campaign account and political committee, Miami-Dade Safe & Secure.

Deputy’s acquittal in Parkland school massacre case shows holes in the law, attorneys say” via Terry Spencer of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — When Florida prosecutors charged former Deputy Scot Peterson for his alleged inaction during the 2018 Parkland school massacre, they faced a major hurdle: no law precisely fit. So, it was not a surprise to legal observers that Peterson was acquitted Thursday of child neglect and other charges for failing to confront the shooter who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Without an on-point statute to base their case upon, prosecutors tried to make the law fit the facts instead of the facts fit the law, lawyers said. That is always a tougher courtroom battle to win.

Trial for North Miami Beach Mayor set on charges he illegally voted three times” via Raisa Habersham of the Miami Herald — A trial date has been set for North Miami Beach Mayor Anthony DeFillipo who is accused of illegally voting three times last year in a district where he was not allowed to cast a ballot. Through his attorney, DeFillipo pleaded not guilty during an arraignment Friday. The trial is scheduled for Sept. 5. DeFillipo’s attorney Michael Pizzi said the allegations against his client were false and he plans to file a motion to dismiss the case. “Today begins the road to Mayor DeFillipo’s exoneration and vindication,” Pizzi said in a statement. DeFillipo was arrested on May 31 at his North Miami Beach condo on allegations he voted outside his registered area three times.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

—”Where to watch fireworks in Central Florida for July 4” via Dianna Williamson of WESH

—”North Central Florida celebrates 4th of July weekend” via WCJB

—”July 4 fireworks near me: Two days to celebrate across Lakeland, Polk County” via Sara-Megan Walsh of The Lakeland Ledger

Disney doesn’t have the only fireworks on July 4.


—”Fireworks and festivities lined up for Fourth of July in Tampa Bay” via Spectrum News

—“12 Fourth of July bar and restaurant specials in Tampa Bay” via Kelly A. Stefani of the Tampa Bay Times

Anclote River dredging begins after years of funding battles, delays” via Josh Archote of the Tampa Bay Times — Seven years, two vetoes, and two decades of sediment buildup later, workers finally began dredging the Anclote River, bringing relief to Tarpon Springs, a city whose economy relies on the navigation of its waterways. Many large ships haven’t been able to navigate the river, opting to bypass Tarpon Springs for Tampa. That means the city has been missing out on business and the visual impact of having a lively marina, said Mayor Costa Vatikiotis. Tarpon Springs, a city of about 25,000 people, brings in $252 million a year in marine commerce, and the river supports roughly 150 businesses and 2,500 jobs, 21% of the city’s workforce, according to a 2016 economic impact survey. But the shallow water of the river — measuring less than 4 feet deep during low tide — means shrimp boats and commercial ships with larger drafts risk running aground in the turning basin. The dredging will return the river to its normal depth of 11 feet.

The Claw, USF’s public golf course, closing in September” via Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times — USF is bidding farewell to an aging landmark, a recreational fixture widely lauded and occasionally lampooned but synonymous with the school for more than a half-century. The Claw is closing up shop to the public. In an email to alumni Thursday, USF President Rhea Law, Athletic Director Michael Kelly and facilities/public safety operations Vice President Carole Post announced the school’s public golf course — which opened in 1967 — will cease public operations on Sept. 5. The 18-hole, par-71 course on the campus’ northern edge — lined liberally with oak, cypress and pine trees — no longer serves as the home course for the Bulls golf teams and has hemorrhaged money recently.

USF’s Claw has come to an end.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

—”A guide to 4th of July fireworks, parades from Tallahassee to Sopchoppy to St. George” via Martha Gruender of the Tallahassee Democrat

—”Fourth of July celebrations are plenty in Okaloosa County” via Collin Bestor of the Northwest Florida Daily News

Mark Woods: A run with Mayor Donna Deegan, the dawn of ‘a new day in Jacksonville’” via the Florida Times-Union — When Deegan went atop the first polls, the analysis often focused on how she had “name recognition.” The implication was that she didn’t have much beyond that; that inevitably she’d be surpassed by candidates with more money; that conventional wisdom would lead to an inevitable result. All of this underestimated her and her campaign — her work ethic, her communication skills, her toughness. Sometimes she’ll post her sunrise photos on social media. It is quite a contrast from her predecessor, who has been known to finish a run and post of photo of his mile split. In many ways, it is already a new day. I’m optimistic that Mayor Deegan will be different from Mayor (Alvin) Brown and Mayor (Lenny) Curry, that her legacy will be more than making history on July 1, 2023.

It’s a new day in Jacksonville. Image via Twitter.

Deegan inauguration sets stage for bringing ‘change for good’ message to City Hall” via David Bauerlein and Hanna Holthaus of The Florida Times-Union — Deegan was sworn in Saturday as the first woman to serve as Mayor in city history, capping a two-year journey that overcame the political odds of running as a Democrat in Jacksonville in the same way she survived three fights against cancer while building a namesake nonprofit that made her name immediately recognizable on the campaign trail. Deegan campaigned on a “Change for Good” theme that captured the support of 52% of voters in a May runoff election against JAX Chamber CEO Daniel Davis.

three months after Judge Kevin Carroll’s death, DeSantis has not moved on appointment” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — More than three months after the death of Circuit Judge Carroll, DeSantis has taken no visible steps to begin the process to appoint a successor. Carroll, who served on the bench for more than 12 years, suffered a fatal heart attack on March 15, creating a vacancy in his 2nd Judicial Circuit post. When such court vacancies occur, the Governor’s Office convenes a Judicial Nominating Commission to recommend names for possible appointments, typically without delay. Under the Florida Constitution, after a vacancy occurs, the Judicial Nominating Commission has 30 days to give the Governor a list of three to six names, though he can extend that another 30 days.

Hunter Conrad is out as St. Johns county administrator after recent extension” via Scott Butler of the Florida Times-Union — Four months after earning a contract renewal, St. Johns County Administrator Conrad resigned abruptly. A special meeting had been scheduled for Friday “to consider the existing Professional Services Agreement Between Hunter S. Conrad and St. Johns County, Florida,” according to the county’s website. It was canceled early Thursday afternoon leading up to the announcement that he had turned in his letter of resignation. Hunter’s contract was renewed in March 2023, but during last week’s Commission meeting, Commissioner Sarah Arnold stated she had concerns about the communication within county staff, Times-Union news partner First Coast News reported. She called out Conrad without specifically stating his name.


Bridges and roads will be closed in Cape Coral on July 4” via Bridgette Seale of NBC 2 — Freedom 5K race and Red, White, & Boom celebrations will result in closures of the Cape Coral Bridge and connecting streets on Tuesday, July 4. The road closures begin at 3 a.m. and continue until 3 a.m. the following day. There are road closures on Cape Coral Parkway and Del Prado Boulevard. Plan for different routes and give yourself extra time to travel to avoid traffic. If you need to turn onto Cape Coral Parkway from Del Prado Boulevard, you must make a U-turn due to the redirection.

Nothing says celebration like a good 5K. Image via Facebook.

—“Where to watch fireworks this 4th of July in Southwest Florida” via NBC 2

All hands on deck: Sarasota County prepares for Fourth of July with riptide, boat safety” via Melissa Pérez-Carrillo of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Nearly 15 government agencies will be working together to keep people safe at the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix and throughout the Fourth of July weekend. Members from the U.S. Coast Guard, Sarasota County Fire Department and the county’s lifeguard management asked visitors and residents to be safe over the weekend by staying hydrated, avoiding drinking and operating a boat and breaking the riptide grip. From June 15-28, Sarasota County Fire lifeguards had 177 assists and 21 rescues across the beaches staffed. In preparation for the holiday weekend, the county will have lifeguards at six beaches and in some areas where rip currents and jetties are present.

U.S. Coast Guard rescues boaters off Sanibel Island” via Bridgette Seale of NBC 2 — Two people were rescued off Sanibel Island around 2 a.m. Saturday, July 1. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the individuals were located 30 miles off Sanibel when their boat started overflowing with water. Officials were able to locate the 25-foot boat by GPS device. The Coast Guard reports Fort Myers and Clearwater officials brought the individuals home safely.

The Coast Guard makes an early morning rescue off Sanibel Island. Image via USCS.

Sarasota a top location for moves in United States according to national movers PODS” via Samantha Gholar of Sarasota Herald-Tribune — A recent ranking released by national moving and storage company PODS has ranked Sarasota near the top of its 2023 list of the top 20 cities where people are moving across the country. Sarasota ranked as the second most moved-to city in the United States, one slot lower than its first-place finish on the 2022 list of cities where people relocated. Based on PODS customer moves in 2022, Sarasota had the highest growth rate in Florida and the entire country, and that trend continued into 2023, the company’s data shows. This year’s report analyzed data about consumer movements for a period of 15 months by tracking resident trends and environmental factors such as cost of living, crime rates, and inclement weather.

Suncoast’s Largest Food Truck Rally helps charities” via ABC 7 — An estimated 2,500 people per day are visiting the Suncoast’s Largest Food Truck Rally at UTC Mall. Vendors from all over the state set up shop in the parking lot during the three-day event. Food options include Polish pierogies, ice cream-filled honeycomb from Hawaii, South Florida barbecue, fresh lemonade and lots more. The festival is helping raise money for charities, with a portion of the $5 ticket sales going to a new organization each day.


The Fourth of July has always been political” via David Waldstreicher of The Atlantic — In July 1776, American rebels staged celebrations of independence that were at once spontaneous and — in a strikingly modern sense — media events.

Independence had already been in the air for at least a year; the Continental Congress had already created public holidays, declaring two national days of fasting, on July 20, 1775, and May 17, 1776.

Yet when it forwarded the printed Declaration of Independence to the states, Congress did not recommend fasting, prayer, bell ringing, or any other observance. Congress would not order the nation to celebrate its own birth. Instead, many colonists devised their own celebrations to mark the event.

The trend in the early republic would be for July Fourth — and other celebrations modeled on the Fourth — to spread nationalism and, at the same time, to provide venues for divisive political expression. In this way, Americans learned both to be American and to practice partisanship without any sense of contradiction.

July Fourth and its alternatives enabled Americans to preserve the paradox of revolutionary tradition. While these nationalistic political celebrations often came to have a conservative bent after the Revolutionary era, some, like the abolitionists, used the occasion to criticize American policy.

On this Fourth of July, we may be asking whether the President’s celebration, in which flyovers and tanks tell us that military service is the epitome of public service, is the right one. Or we may be asking, with Nike and Colin Kaepernick, whether we can see more in Betsy Ross’ flag than a proslavery emblem.

But on any Fourth of July, the real question is what version of the republic we care to advance by celebrating.


—”7 budget vetoes that prove DeSantis can be a real prick” via Peter Schorsch for the Daily Beast

How to avoid blowing your fingers off … and other advice for Florida on July 4” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — As you enjoy the day — or days — look out for your fellow Tampa Bay residents. Grant them grace when they mistakenly cut you off in the beach parking lot. Thank the people who don’t have the day off, the people serving you food and the ones keeping you safe. Leave the celebratory gunfire for old Western movies. Slow down on the roads. It’s supposed to be a relaxing holiday, not the sequel to “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Let’s save another Florida Highway Patrol trooper the agony of having to inform yet another family that their loved one died while speeding to get to the beach, the bar, or the picnic — or worse, drinking and driving.

On July 4 in gun-happy Florida, what could go wrong?” via Stephanie Hayes of the Tampa Bay Times — Summer holidays, with their sun-soaked high jinks and paranoia, loaded potato skins and baked-in fear of bodily harm, can get confusing in Florida. Let’s take the upcoming Fourth of July festivities. Florida’s statute, which values a broad interpretation of personal protection, played out again recently. A Dunedin man opened AR-15 fire at another man who had come to clean a pool after dark. Remarkably, the pool cleaner emerged mostly unscathed. The shooter wasn’t charged; apparently, the pool guy should have said he was working late to avoid being shot at 30 times. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri called the situation “lawful but awful.” Honestly, a perfect new slogan for Florida. Where’s our T-shirt guy?



— ALOE —

5 tips to help you avoid a July 4 travel disaster” via Hannah Sampson of The Washington Post — On that day, the best travel times are expected to be before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. The worst time to drive is Thursday is between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. On Saturday, drivers will do their best to hit the road before noon; 1 p.m. is expected to be the worst time to travel. For people planning to fly, the Transportation Security Administration expects Thursday through Wednesday to be busy, with peak crowds on Friday. The middle of an air travel meltdown is no time to start getting familiar with your airline’s policies. If a flight is canceled, travelers should know if the airline’s policy is to rebook them, and how quickly. Prepare for the worst, and you might just have a leg up.

Light up your Fourth of July table with a red, white and blue cheesecake” via Amy Drew Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel — I am a food writer first and a photographer second. Actually, it’s probably more like a photographer 42nd. But I’m trying. Recipes like this one make it easier, though occasionally, I need help, and for this cheesecake’s close-up, that came in the form of my neighbor, Valerie, who occasionally dog sits but had never before been enlisted in any job-related ridiculousness until I asked her to light up this Red, White & Blue Cheesecake recipe from Food Network Kitchen.

Celebrating American independence is as easy as Food Network Kitchen’s Patriotic Cheesecake.

The ‘it’ restaurant order this Summer? A hot dog” via Pervaiz Shallwani of The Wall Street Journal — You wouldn’t think hot dogs needed such a hard sell: According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC), Americans purchase more than 900 million pounds of them annually at grocery stores alone. And they buy more in July — National Hot Dog Month — than any other month. “We have seen that over the years, people have gotten a lot more creative with how they top their hot dogs,” said NHDSC President Eric Mittenthal. At Mischa, chef Alex Stupak lets the $29 hot dog — 8 inches long and a half-pound in weight — speak for itself. But your $29 does buy you a palette of toppings, including brisket chili and housemade condiments such as kimchi, bacon-habanero chile crisp and yellow mustard dyed with tagete flowers.


Happy birthday in the coming days to state Sen. Joe Gruters, Ron Barnette, Susanne Dudley, Brad Herold, our friend James Kotas, MaryLynn Magar, Tim Nungesser, Tim Parsons, Fatima Perez, Van Poole, and Tim Stapleton of Gunster, Barbara Watson


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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